How to use Credit Cards in Japan!
The use of Credit Cards in Japan is not exactly popular even though it is one of the most developed countries in the world especially with regards to advancement in science and technology.
One would have expected that the most acceptable means of payment would be through credit cards in Japan but is it not the case. Japan is still a cash-based society to some extent. Local stores, pubs, historical sites, parks, and other relaxation centers are likely to frown at making payments via your credit card(s).
A 2016 study revealed that 84% of people have credit cards in Japan but only 66% percent of credit cards and other forms of cardholders use them for transactions.
However, if you are in a city like Yokohama, Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima among others, restaurants, hotels, stores, cinemas would most likely accept payments through credit cards.
The use of credit cards in Japan has significantly increased due to the Olympic and Paralympic Games which will be hosted in Tokyo later this year.
Unfortunately with the ban on visitors or fans attending the games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there should be a shortfall in the use of credit cards during the games.
List of acceptable Credit Cards in Japan?
Expectedly, Mastercard and Visa credit cards are the most acceptable in Japan. You can use any of these cards at restaurants, shopping malls, hotels, train stations, etc.
The JCB Credit card is also acceptable for making payments. It is Japan’s credit card, it is accepted in over 190 countries and it boasts of about 80 million cardholders.
Some stores and other businesses also accept American Express and Union Pay credit cards but the aforementioned credit cards are the most used in Japan.
Places where you can use Credit Cards in Japan.
Only major Taxi companies accept payments for trips via credit cards in Japan. Most local taxis prefer you pay in cash rather than using any of the cards.
It is always advisable to ask the driver of the taxi directly if he or she accepts payments via cards or not.
- Private Businesses in Major Cities
Most privately-run businesses in Tokyo, Osaka among other major cities accept credit cards in Japan.
However, some might decline based on the period of the day. Therefore, it is good to ask one of the employees or cashiers if they not only accept credit cards but also whether they acceptor them at that particular point in time you are about to use it
- Gift Shops
They gladly accept credit cards in shops like this. Usually, they put up a sign to inform you that credit cards are accepted for payments.
- Hotels and Short Apartments
They also accept credit cards. You can use your card to make payments after use or to make reservations. But some lodgings only accept cash payments.
The point is, it is better to have cash and credit cards so as not to run into trouble especially with the locals. This is not to say that they are hostile and unaccommodating but to be on the safe side, make sure you have both cash and cards if you are planning to visit Japan anytime soon.
Frequently Asked Questions about using Credit Cards in Japan.
- Can a visitor get a Credit Card in Japan?
It is most unlikely to apply and get a credit card in Japan as a visitor or foreigner and the reasons are not to understand.
Japanese credit card issuers do not use the credit agencies and history in your home country even though you might have a very good credit history. They only use one called JICC.
Again, issuing a foreigner a credit card is quite risky because you are just a flight away from leaving the country which means they won’t get their money back once you leave the country.
- Are they any alternatives to Credit Cards in Japan?
As a result of you not having a credit history, it might be extremely difficult to get a credit card in Japan. However, there are alternatives you can try out.
You can apply for the Prepaid Master or Visa or a debit card.
Also, you can load your IC card with any amount you want. The IC card can be used to make payments for transport fares and it can also be used in local stores in Japan.
How Credit Cards in Japan are different from others
- Full Payment
Unlike other counties where you can spend the money on your credit card and repay when you like or defer payments, Japanese credit cards require full payments.
The billing cycle for most consumer credit cards starts from the 16th of a month to the 15th of the next month. The account summary on the card will be sent on the 30th while the payment will be automatically debited on the 10th of the following month with no interest charged since one is paying in full.
- Part Payment
While making payment for purchases, you can decide to make part-payment for the item but you will have to make this request at the credit card section of the point of sale.
The interest on the payment will depend on how you split your payment. The total interest you may pay ranges between 12%-17%.
- Low credit limits
Except for Gold, Platinum, or Black), Regular credit limits are low—often only JPY 100,000 (less than USD 1,0000).
With the low limits, you can only use them to buy food, drinks at the restaurant or make regular payments. However, except you choose to pay in installment, you can’t use the limit to buy travel tickets.